Lukewarm Stove: Garza, Soriano, Byrd, LaHair, Turner, Rizzo, Marmol, Fielder, Jackson

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Lukewarm Stove: Garza, Soriano, Byrd, LaHair, Turner, Rizzo, Marmol, Fielder, Jackson

Chicago Cubs

Yesterday’s trade came somewhat out of nowhere (obviously the fact that Carlos Zambrano was probably on his way out eventually, and probably to the Marlins, has been known for a long time, but there wasn’t much in the way of rumors leading up to yesterday’s reveal), so who knows what’s next for the Cubs. But there are plenty of rumors to discuss…

  • A lot of folks are asking about the impact that trading Carlos Zambrano might have on the Cubs’ willingness to deal Matt Garza. I’m not really sure I see any impact at all. Zambrano was largely expected to be dealt, and he was replaced by another pitcher. Further, it’s not as though Zambrano was this hugely positive veteran presence in the clubhouse whose departure necessitates the retention of another veteran presence. I suspect that the Zambrano trade was in the works for a long time – long before the Cubs started seriously entertaining Garza offers. The Cubs will continue to do, or not do, whatever they were already doing with respect to Garza, without regard to the Zambrano trade (with the sole exceptions being (a) the Marlins’ possible reduced involvement in Garza talks, and (b) the possible reduced need to net another experienced pitcher back in a Garza trade).
  • Speaking of Garza, Buster Olney cites “many talent evaluators” who see Matt Garza as a middle of the rotation starter, which makes teams not want to meet the Cubs’ steep asking price. Sigh. Garza, who dramatically changed his approach in a very repeatable way in 2011 (less reliance on fastballs), was 13th in all of baseball in WAR last year and was 8th in FIP (the extremely rare bold, italicized, underlined emphasis). In what universe is that a middle of the rotation starter? Moreover, you didn’t have to watch him but a handful of starts to see that he had developed into one of the best starters in the game. The talent evaluators Olney cites? If they aren’t employed by the Tigers, Blue Jays, Red Sox, or Yankees, I’ll eat my hat.
  • Speaking of Garza redux, a story about the Tigers being “out” on Garza because they refuse to trade Jacob Turner has been making the rounds, but I’d ask you to read what Tigers’ GM Dave Dombrowski actually said before deciding anything definitive. Among his quotes that are utterly devoid of real meaning: “We are not looking to trade Jacob Turner …. We love the guy. But I have received calls from clubs wondering if we would be interested in certain players because they have interest in our players. And he is a guy they ask about immediately because he is held in such high esteem …. Do we listen to anybody? Yes. But we are not looking to trade Jacob Turner by any means.” Do I really have to explain how that statement is fundamentally different from “we are definitely not going to trade Jacob Turner in a deal for Matt Garza”? The other statement getting feathers ruffled: “I don’t think there is another call [other than about Gio Gonzalez] we’ve made in pursuing another starting pitcher.” You don’t “think” there’s a “call” “you’ve” made? I could drive a truck through that statement.
  • Speaking of Garza redux redux, Nick Cafardo hears that the Cubs are sticking to their demand for three top prospects before they’ll consider pulling the trigger on a deal.
  • Could Alfonso Soriano be the next contract dumped? George Ofman suggests that three AL teams are back at the table discussing Soriano with the Cubs. He mentions the Orioles by name, who’ve been connected to Soriano for quite some time. Their manager, Buck Showalter, who managed Soriano in Texas, is believed to be a big fan. The Cubs owe Soriano $54 million over the next three years, so any deal will include a huge chunk of cash coming from the Cubs, and a very unexciting piece coming back from the other team.
  • A good source tells me that the Cubs and Red Sox have indeed been discussing Marlon Byrd, who is under contract for 2012 at $6.5 million. The Cubs appear to be looking to save salary in the deal while picking up a lower-level, high upside type prospect. Byrd and the Red Sox have been connected for a couple weeks now.
  • MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes chatted yesterday, and said (1) he thinks the Yankees and Marlins are the most likely destination for Garza, with the Cubs getting two of the team’s top three prospects (which would mean two of Montero, Banuelos, and Betances from the Yanks), (2) he doesn’t think many teams, if any, are interested in Soriano, and (3) given the Cubs’ outlook for 2012, letting LaHair start at first base makes as much sense as signing someone like Pena or Kotchman.
  • Bruce Levine also had a chat, and said, among other things: (1) the Cubs don’t currently match up well in a trade for Anthony Rizzo, (2) the Cubs have started considering what a Matt Garza extension might look like, (3) the Cubs have talked to at least eight AL teams about Soriano over the last two months, (4) Boston, Washington, and Atlanta have had interest at some point in Byrd, (5) Carlos Marmol is probably sticking around for now, (6) Bruce doesn’t think the Cubs are out of the running for Prince Fielder, and (7) the Cubs are probably not interested in Edwin Jackson, considering his lofty demands.

Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.